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Feb 7, 201702:26 PMApplied Mindfulness

with Ed Maxwell

Bias cuts into the bottom line

(page 2 of 2)

What not to do

Some companies embark on a slapdash, ad-hoc approach to D&I. They might put up table tents in the cafeteria, bring in a speaker for an all-company presentation once or twice, and put a policy about D&I on their website. Then they’re surprised when D&I fail to materialize.

These cursory efforts fail more often than not. They can actually backfire and reduce productivity and teamwork in a company.

Harvard has documented how other traditional means of addressing this issue (e.g., mandatory diversity training and grievance systems) can backfire as well. These approaches fail because they don’t address the root problems of ignorance and unconscious bias.

How to achieve greater D&I

We can’t assume that leaders naturally know how to go about creating a culture that embraces diversity. Leaders need to be properly trained in how to structure organizations, teams, and processes so they’re capable of fostering diversity.

Additionally, everyone in the company needs to reduce their unconscious biases through mindfulness training, so they can be inclusive toward those who differ from them. My TED talk that I gave recently at the University of Wisconsin explains how and why mindfulness has such a huge impact on bias. Mindfulness training also offers a host of other benefits, which makes gaining internal buy-in for this part of the new approach easier.

This approach does require sustained commitment. Each company should go into such an undertaking with eyes wide open. If they follow through, they’ll be the richer for it.

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